One thing for sure, two things for certain: Pap Chanel is pretty, and paid. Dreaming bigger than her small town roots, the artist who refers to herself as a “Georgia Peach” is breaking new ground, abandoning all comfort zones, and never looking back. She grew up just 90 minutes shy of Atlanta, with a desire to escape the simplistic standards that came with being a country girl from the deep south.
“Being from a small town, it really put a battery in my back,” she tells KAZI Magazine, “because I knew that I had to go the extra mile to network with different people to get my name out there.” It can be hard to describe Pap’s longing for more, underpinned by the right kind of ambition that gives rise to abstract dispositions of personality. And while this is accurate, it can only be the surface. A few layers deeper, you’ll glimpse a Pap that leans heavily towards confident and creative — an artist propelled by an inexplicable desire for meaning, pushed by a worldview that sees the bigger picture in all things.
In that, she’s not alone. But more importantly, this perspective is something that she has always retained as part of her identity. And in return, the 23-year-old southern belle is celebrated for her rawness and authenticity. Unlike most newer acts, defined by microwaveable trends and their mastery of the internet, Pap actually pays attention to what her fans are saying. “Even the things that I would run from, my fans made me feel better about including it in my music,” she explains.
Initially, she was living for herself and not feeling guilty about it — pumping out tracks that speak to the Pretty and Paid lifestyle. Her seminal debut The Definition of P.A.P capped a breakthrough 2018, helmed by a guest verse from Lil Baby (“Talk 2 Cheap”). Since then, Pap had experienced so much change over the next few years that her success became undeniable. By the time she got around to making music with Future (“Gucci Bucket Hat” feat. Herion Young), she had ascended past the level of exciting upstart. Still, something was missing, something more reflective of her growth on a holistic level.
Photo courtesy of Eric Jeffery Jordan II
After taking a yearlong hiatus from creating, Pap never lost touch as she took time to figure out what kind of artist she “wanted to present.” Now, she returns fully immersed in a renewed sense of self. Like many of us, she had to face personal hardships which forced her to work through some brutal moments. With her songwriting serving as a diary into the things that have influenced, shaped, and formed Pap Chanel, PAPTIVITIES is a “broader statement” about becoming the best version of herself.
For the May issue of KAZI Magazine, we had a chance to speak with the peach of the patch about her PAPTIVITIES EP, her love for the south, taking a break from music and why she’ll never stop chasing her dreams.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. What are some things you’re doing to prioritize your mental health these days?
Pap Chanel: As of right now, I’m just praying every morning when I wake up. I’ve always had a great relationship with God but I’ve been trying to build that relationship more each day. I go workout; I drink a protein shake; and I write music after that.
Did you go to church often as a child?
Pap Chanel: I’m not gon’ lie to you, I grew up in a Christian household. My family always told me, ‘You need to go to church every Sunday. Keep your relationship with God.’ I don’t care what nobody say (even if you don’t believe in the same thing I believe in), the word of the Lord I believe in – it keeps me going every day in life. I don’t know too much about nothing but I know one thing fasho, and two things for certain-ny: I’ma country bitch. [Laughs]
Whatever you believe in, God is going to achieve it for you. You don’t have to stress about too much in the world. As long as you believe in what you believe in, and you treat the world right, and you pray to God every day, God is going to work everything out for you. That’s for all my queens out there. Just keep doing right by people and your life will be amazing. Whatever you give in life is what you get back.
Where are you from, and what was it like growing up?
Pap Chanel: I’m from Milledgeville, Georgia. That’s a small town in Georgia, about an hour and half from Atlanta. I always said to myself, ‘I wanna go to Atlanta and pursue my dreams.’ People always feed into my energy and it made me say, ‘Okay, I can take this to a broader audience.’ As time went on, I did freestyles over the years… since I was six-years-old. I grew a great fanbase and the fruits of my labor have allowed me to be able to talk to a person like you right now. So, thank you. And I just wanna tell all my ladies out there: If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Just keep going, baby.
Have you always been a confident person?
Pap Chanel: I always had this confidence because I looked up to artists like Whitney Houston. You know, Whitney Houston, she go crazy. [Laughs] I was listening to Foxy Brown; I was listening to Nicki Minaj; and I love Cardi B. I feel like females are way more dominant [than men]. Even the male joints that I choose – I choose T.I., Boosie, I can go on and on. All of the southern artists, I always viewed them as a goal to aim towards when it comes to my artistry. I already figured out what kind of person I want to be in the world. At this point, I just need to feed off of what is already out there because I love down south music. The South be talking they shit, and we paved the way for a lot of people. And I feel like we haven’t got our notoriety, or our accolades – but I’m here. I’m the girl that’s finna make that shit known.
How does your love for the south translate to the music that you create?
Pap Chanel: Being from a small town, it really put a battery in my back because I knew that I had to go the extra mile to network with different people to get my name out there. I don’t have all the resources that a lot of people have in a big city.
Do you feel like your back was against the wall in the sense that you had to go that much harder than the next person? You know, due to a lack of those said resources.
Pap Chanel: I never felt like my back was against the wall. And I pray for anybody that feels like they got they back against the wall ‘cause when it come down to it, if I believe it, I can achieve it. So, if anybody have their back against the wall, I’ma tell you one thing fasho – just have a talk with yourself. Spend a day, or two – it takes a little time for you to just really say to yourself, ‘This is what I wanna do. I believe in it. I gotta get in the studio. I gotta lock in.’ And after that, I can present it to people and I can grow a fanbase behind it.
That’s what I had to do, grow a whole fanbase behind this shit. I had to tap into my creativity and really show people that whatever I want to do in life, I can achieve it. I kept going on and on and on and on, and my fans showed me so much love. Shoutout to my fans, I love y’all so much – and we going up!
What about now feels like the right time to drop your new project?
Pap Chanel: I’m super excited about [dropping] because I had a lot of time last year to tap into my creativity and figure out what kind of artist I wanted to present. I been through so much in my life and I just want to present the best version of me. I feel like that’s what everybody should do in life, and I’m happy to announce that I’m presenting two thirds of who I want to be. And it’s the year of consistency for Pap. Big on consistency! And I have a lot more to come. And I’m super happy with what I’m creating this year. PAPTIVITIES is the start, and if you don’t have your post notifications on, you need to turn ‘em on.
Did you learn anything about yourself in the last year?
Pap Chanel: What I would say is that over time, as I was dropping music, I was just living for me. The little things I touched on, I needed to make a broader statement. People would say, ‘Oh, I went through this’ or ‘I went through the same thing.’ A lot of people have been through what I been through. So, I decided to talk about that in my music and I’ma go crazy with it. PAPTIVITIES is a big step for me because I listened to my fans. Even the things that I would run from, my fans made me feel better about including it in my music. I’m not gon’ lie, I felt shy; I felt embarrassed sometimes. [My fans] got through the curtains and they figured out what I was trying to hide. And I’m not gon’ lie to you, the first song on my project, a lot of my fans finna cry. [Laughs] I kid you not.
Do you think PAPTIVITIES is your best work to date? A lot of times, vulnerability is considered our greatest strength.
Pap Chanel: This is my most vulnerable work. And I’ma say this – that first song, I know for certain all of my fans finna eat it up. I’m touching on the stories that my fans have been telling me over the years. At first, I was ashamed to talk about it. I didn’t wanna talk about it. I was scared. But one thing I learned over the years is that a lot of people go through the same thing. It’s a blessing for me to even do music. I’m shy about it, but when I do little snippets and stuff, they be like, ‘Please continue. This is speaking to my life.’ I’m just happy to present it to the world!
That’s powerful. You never know who needs to hear your story. I feel like that’s a big part of what makes you unique.
Pap Chanel: I had to do a lot of things to take me to the next level. And I’m proud of that because it puts work ethic in my soul. It’s something that I’ma always implement in my life. I’m just super excited for my fans to see what I’ve been working on. I stopped (making music) for a whole year to tap into my creativity and figure everything out. It’s the year of consistency for Pap! I just wanna tell my fans I love y’all. I appreciate y’all for y’all love, and I hear it. I hear it all.
Looking back on your career until now, what is something that keeps you motivated?
Pap Chanel: The main thing that keeps me going is knowing that my fans are happy with what I’m presenting. I go through things daily that make my music. I just wanna tell everybody out there, whatever you go through, that makes your story authentic. Be one of one, I promise you. Because I had to go through it to believe it. Whatever you go through, put it in your music and make sure people can really know what you’ve been through. You never know what your story can do for somebody. My story has made me push forward. It has made me be this amazing artist. It has made me go back to the studio and figure out what I can talk about to pull more people in. You just can’t have the style, you gotta actually live it. That’s part of the lifestyle. That’s the beauty of life.
It sounds like you have a different level of appreciation for what you’ve been through in life – the good and the bad.
Pap Chanel: Right, ‘cause so many times, I’ve sat back and watched artists become great artists and they made the same mistake I made. But at the same time, you gotta live your own life. You gotta chase your own dreams. I promise to God, chasing your dreams is going to be the hardest thing in your life. Anybody under the sun, somebody can come to you tomorrow and say, ‘You need to do this and that.’ Whatever you believe, fuck what this, that, and the third say, because you chasing that is gonna be extra harder than what you believe. And what you believe is going to be hard to chase because anything worth having in life is going to be hard to get. Fuck what anybody gotta say. For anybody reading this, I’ma tell you right now, if you can believe it, you can achieve it. Wake up every morning and thank God for waking you up, and tell God, ‘This is what I want to do,’ ‘cause God is listening. God has already worked out your problems. So just work towards it. Amen. [Laughs] I wish someone would have told me that ‘cause I had to learn it the hard way. Whatever problems you have in life, just keep going, ‘cause God already got it worked out, baby.
Can you put into words what this moment means to you, to appear on a magazine cover?
Pap Chanel: In my opinion, I feel like this moment is finna legendary. If I get a bigger platform to present myself, that’s the biggest moment in my life. As long as I appreciate it right then and there, it’s gon’ get bigger later on.